Hitch a Ride: 7 Perfectly Formed Examples of Portable Architecture

Andrew Davis Andrew Davis

The importance of “place” in architecture is often used to communicate the extraordinary relationship between a building and its site. “Place” is more than simply location, it is the agglomeration of well designed elements that evoke a visceral emotion within a building’s occupants. When considering this concept of “place” for mobile architecture, the definition becomes more complex, or at least harder to pinpoint. It is not only the architecture itself that defines the place, but also the collection of experiences from wherever that structure has been.

Tow-able architecture has become an emerging fascination for those interested in downsizing their homes, making their businesses mobile or truly exploring a modern-day nomadic lifestyle. This collection shows some recent innovations and reinventions in portable architecture.

Stubbs Greenroom by Baldridge Architects, Anywhere, Made in Austin, United States

Though this trailer is mostly a stationary green room for the Stubbs Performance Venue in Austin, Texas, Baldridge Architects retained the inherent mobile qualities of this former Airstream trailer. Paneled with wood on the interior and a reinvented entrance, this project is perfect for the active lifestyle of the musicians that use it.

Fantastic Trailer by Cheryl Baxter, Anywhere, Made in Michigan, United States

This collapsible design is meant as a pop-up pavilion, use to define a variety of social gatherings. The structure unfolds to show hanging fans which inflate translucent fabric and define space between the arms of the trailer.

© FIVE AM

© FIVE AM

© FIVE AM

© FIVE AM

#dojowheels by FIVE AM, Anywhere, Made in Belgium

FIVE AM renovated this small caravan to function as a mobile office. The interior is a blank canvas allowing the occupant to alter the space to accommodate the specific nature of the work at hand.

© Reddymade

© Reddymade

© Reddymade

© Reddymade

Dream Machine by Reddymade Design LLC, Anywhere, Made in New York, United States

This remodeled 1978 Airstream Excella is used by its owners as “an ambassador of living well.” With the expressed interest in art and design, this trailer is a showcase that can travel to arts fairs, music festivals and other events to inspire.

© Norwich University Design / Build

© Norwich University Design / Build

© Norwich University Design / Build

© Norwich University Design / Build

© Norwich University Design / Build

© Norwich University Design / Build

The Archistream by Norwich University Design / Build, Anywhere, Made in Vermont, United States

The students of Norwich University took the challenge to repurpose a 1969 Globetrotter Airstream trailer at a “vehicle for communications.” This trailer is used as a mobile teaching tool to host discussions, classes and community events.

© McCall Burau

© McCall Burau

© McCall Burau

© McCall Burau

© McCall Burau

© McCall Burau

ATLAS by F9 Productions Inc., Anywhere, Made in Colorado, United States

Atlas is a machine designed to reconnect its users with the potential of the environment around them. The project is meant to allow those with an adventurous spirit the opportunity to travel and experience the world with an elevated sense of context.

© Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

© Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

© Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

© Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

© Carlos Jones PhotographsOfYou

© Carlos Jones PhotographsOfYou

AMIE 1.0 by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP ( SOM ), Anywhere, Made in Tennessee, United States

Combining design and technology, this 3D-printed structure is a prototype used for the storing and sharing of renewable energy. This trailer is built as a sustainable tool to aid in the equitable distribution of energy to the places that need it the most.

© Office for Urban Renewal

Wuhan Creative Design Center // Office for Urban Renewal

Wuhan, China

“Less Is More” vs. “Less Is a Bore”: Whose Camp Are You In?

Robert Venturi strove to rewrite the book on modern architectural design.

+